Friday, June 19, 2015

Author Interview: Boe the Great by Joel Feldman

reviewed the book Boe the Great here (I rated the book 5 stars so you should definitely read the book), and now I get to interview the author and illustrator Joel Feldman too! Read for a peek into his mind and some advice he has to other authors and illustrators.

Author & Illustrator Joel Feldman
Valerie Harmon: What children's books influenced you and are your favorites?

Joel Feldman: My mother had a small collection of French comic books. Tin-Tin and Asterix were my favorite ones. The funny fact is that at the time not only was I too young to read, but I hardly knew any French. Those colorful images are so well drawn, making each comic strip and frame guide you through the story line so perfectly. Above all I remember each and every detail those books had. The rich characters, the acting gestures, clothes and outfits, background layout etc. The scenarios were very well planned, exploring different countries and cultures. I was greatly fascinated by all of those features, and they still guide me in my work today, as a writer and illustrator.

VH: How do you get your story ideas?

JF: Whether it's watching random people on the street, reading a newspaper or a book, listening or playing music - ideas keep flowing all the time. The tricky part is to choose the best ideas, and then to transform those thoughts into a detailed story or an illustration. I'll also note that my daily work involves using my imagination all the time. Luckily, I get to sail through imaginary ideas and worlds while I'm working. Boe the Great. I had many ideas in my mind, but none of them has developed into a solid one. It was only after I randomly draw a small Viking riding a horse, on a distant snowy mountain, which made me realize I would love to "stay" there. The story developed later on, but all the small details were already present in that quick sketch, making everything very easy to visualize.
I have a privilege to get inspired by an illustration - just as it happened when I realized I would love to "stay" there. The story developed later on, but all the small details were already present in that quick sketch, making everything very easy to visualize.

VH: How did you learn illustration?

JF: Since I was very young, I always loved drawing. My father had many creative ideas and challenges, which really helped me to develop my creative skills, imagination and memory. Nevertheless, I was always more of a doodler and never consider myself an "illustrator" until I started my studies at Bezalel (Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem, Israel) at the age of 24. I studied animation for 4 years, which was indeed a great experience.

Character design, layout design, script writing, film, directing and many more. It was all there. I learned so many tools to choose from, and after I graduated, hard as it was to get myself into "real life," I had the knowledge and artistic variety to get things moving. The beauty of this work\hobby is that it is always evolving and changing. You learn new things, and your taste differs along the years. For me it's a never ending journey, and I hope to keep it that way.

VH: Having published, what advice do you have for other authors looking to publish their books?

JF: First of all, I illustrated several books for other authors, but Boe the Great is my first as a writer as well. After I published the book through Amazon, and it was quite well received, I got a huge opportunity to publish the book in hard cover, translated from English into Hebrew. With all due respect to online marketing and distribution capacity it provides, the joy and satisfaction seeing your creation on every book shelf in your home country, is just way beyond everything I hoped for.

I created Boe the Great while working other jobs. I had an idea which I thought was worth working for, and I went all the way with it. I never expected any success or fame, and always said to myself that getting paid for this would be a bonus - not a goal. In the end, having a world I created from a small idea, into an actual book - that is true success to me. Having said that, my advice would be set your expectations right. Don't criticize yourself too much, never stop dreaming, but try to get everything in the right perspective.

VH: What is your favorite part of being a children's book author?

JF: There are many reasons to be happy and proud. First of all, the personal experience. Like every art form, it is a creative process. The journey you go through is a great experience. Though it is quite tough and very long, in the end it is really satisfying. I have created something. It has a name and look. It has an idea behind it. It has rules of its own. The second thing for me is the readers. Whether it's the parents or the children, the idea that my book, my thought and creational process, is that family's time together or any other part of their lives - is just unbelievable. I take this opportunity and responsibility for those family's precious moments very seriously.

VH: As an artist, what advice do you have for creating successful book covers?

JF: eBooks and printed books covers are quite different. The digital version of Boe the Great, as presented at the kindle store, is shown in a very tiny frame among many other book covers. Naturally, my goal was to make people see the essence of the book in a quick glance, and to hopefully make them notice it and choose it over others. I choose an illustration where Boe is shown in close up, covering almost the entire composition, leaving a reasonable spot for a readable book title. Everything needs to be visually clear and right in place.

On the other hand, printed books have a more comfortable composition, in my opinion. There is more space to create a detailed illustration, which is obviously a better way to tell what's inside the book.

Moreover, your book might be placed proudly on the display window, and also might be hidden on the shelf right next to hundreds of other books. For that, my advice would be to make it noticeable by choosing the right colors and the right font. Do your homework by going to the local book store and see for yourself what catches your attention, and what will make you browse elsewhere. Simple as that.

VH: Do you have a funny or unique story about the whole author experience you'd like to share?

JF: Boe The Great is dedicated to my father, Gadi, which sadly passed away almost 3 years ago, and 6 months before the book was made. My father's spirit is in the core of everything I do. He was extremely smart and knowledgeable, a great educator who always set a good example. He always encourage me to create, and was very proud at any result I ended up with.

Creating Boe the Great was an important therapy for me trying to be as creative as I can instead of drowning into sorrow, which I defiantly felt and still feeling until this day. A good friend of mine, who read the book, told me he felt the sub-context of Boe the Great was about Departure, not necessarily of a person, but more of an end of an era, a dramatic change in life. Though I never aimed for that purpose and perhaps other people will find different ideas, it may have been subconsciously there all along. Dedicating Boe the Great to my father is like giving a gift back in return for everything he meant for me--making him proud.

VH: Do you have anything you'd like to share with the children who read your book?

JF: Of course. Like Boe's journey in the story, it is very important for us all to search for our own unique way. It is up to each individual to search for it, but it is also up to the parents to let it happen. That child you marked as failure on one subject might be a shining star in other subjects. Our world is so full of opportunities, and it gives us endless ways to become happy and successful. Remember that failure might lead to success, and we need to open our eyes to search for it and believe in ourselves and those around us.

For more information on Joel Feldman, check out these links:
Feldman's website -
Boe the Great Review:

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Congratulations to child author Ryan Rector!

Author Ryan Rector

Congratulations to 10 year old writer Ryan Rector for making the Los Angeles local news as a children's book author.

I reviewed her book Hey Zoo Animals, Wake Up Already! and interviewed her in April 2015. Click here for that blog post.


Friday was the last day of school for Stevenson Ranch elementary school 4th-grader Ryan Rector, but she may be hearing from some of her classmates this summer who are looking to add a book or two to their reading lists.

Because at just 10 years old, Ryan is the author of not one, but two books.

She's written "I'm Not a Vampire, I Just Suck My Thumb," and "Hey Zoo Animals, Wake Up Already!" with the help of her father, Clarence.

"It's mostly her ideas, but it's just me with a little bit of assistance of putting it all together," he said.

---Read the rest of the news article (and a video interview) click here----

~Valerie Harmon